How To Use The HTV Cutting Vinyl

HTV Cutting Vinyl

Unless you plan on using only pre-cuts or custom-cut vinyl, you’re going to have to know how to cut the vinyl from a roll or sheet yourself. You will need a vinyl cutter to do this in an accurate and timely manner. Vinyl cutters range from hobby cutters to heavy-duty machines from Roland DG and Graphtec. What you need in a cutter largely depends on the size of your business. Still, no matter which cutter you have, the basic process is largely the same:

1. Create or Buy a Cut File

To cut art, you will need a cut file. Your vinyl cutter will come with software that processes these files and sends them to the cutter. You can buy cut files of art, or create your own using Adobe or Corel programs.

2. Scale & Mirror the Art

Prepare your art for application by using software to scale and mirror it before cutting. You want the art to be the right size for the garment ‒ neither too small nor too big. Mirror the image so that it cuts it backward. This way, when you place the design it will be oriented the right way on your garment.

3. Follow the Cutting Guidelines

Each HTV has a different set of guidelines to make sure you get an optimal cut. If your cutter has the options, make sure you have the right blade and the correct settings of force, offset, and speed.

4. Weed the Vinyl

Using a weeding tool, pull the bits of extra vinyl off the carrier. Peel carefully so you do not wreck the design. Make sure you get the pieces in the design’s cavities. The more intricate the design, the more time and care will be needed for weeding. Before pressing, make sure you have removed all excess vinyl.

Application Guidelines

There are three important variables when applying HTV with a heat press: pressure, temperature, and time. Being accurate on these three variables is essential to creating a good print. Disregarding the guidelines will result in anything from a design that doesn’t stick to a blemished, ruined garment. Worst of all, you could be selling garments that don’t survive through the wash cycle.

If you have issues with the application guidelines, you may need to reconsider the heat transfer vinyl you are using. For instance, some HTVs can take more than 15 seconds to apply. While this doesn’t sound long, if you’re doing a huge order, the time adds up. If you can find an equally suitable HTV with a shorter application time, you can save yourself time. Likewise, if your press has difficulty retaining heat, it may be worthwhile to find a heat transfer vinyl that applies at cooler temperatures. This way, you’re not waiting for the platen to reheat after every press.

How to Apply

Once you’ve chosen your HTV and cut/weeded it, it’s time to apply. If you’ve done the groundwork and know the vinyl will work well with your fabric, you’re more than halfway there. Follow these steps to decorate your item:

  1. Turn on your heat press
  2. Set the press to the correct temperature and pressure
  3. Wait for your press to reach temperature
  4. Center your item center on the press
  5. Close the press on the item to pre-heat it and eliminate any wrinkles
  6. Place your design on the item with the carrier facing up
  7. Put a cover sheet over the item to protect it
  8. Press for the correct amount of time
  9. Open your press, remove the item, and peel off the carrier according to the HTV Process
  10. Move on to the next item

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